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Best portable, rechargeable DC power supply unit?


youngfulltimers

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We have about 1 million devices that can charge our USB devices. We have the cigarette lighter charger, portable battery pack, Stanley Simple Start jumper cable charger, and even three solar window chargers.

 

But we still have to run our generator each time we need to recharge our laptops. Aside from the occasional microwave use, it's literally the only time we need to run our generator. I hate how much gas we use on something so preventable.

 

However, it is impossible to find a portable, rechargeable device that offers two DC power outlets. I don't want to plug into my cigarette lighter, I don't need any extra USB ports, I don't need something jump starts my vehicle, and I don't need any of the other bells and whistles so many devices try to offer.

 

Does anyone have any solution? The closest thing I can find is this ChargeTech device, but it only has one actual DC power outlet—and two USB outlets (no more!!!).

 

We are willing to pay for a good product, but there does not seem to be one out there that fits our needs. Any help would be amazing!! What works for you? Help us spare our poor generator.

 

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Why would you not just use your rigs house battery/ies? It's quite simple to wire in as many 12v outlets as you might need. 12v adapters for your laptops are also available fairly cheap.

 

If you're looking for something that can be recharged at a location other than your rig, what about just putting together your own? Whatever 12v battery of your choice, appropriate A/C charger and connected to 2 12v outlets would be the same difference. Fit neatly into some type of "project box" and it should do.

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I believe you are trying to say it only has one AC outlet. Then get two of those, or spend twice as much for an extra small inverter generator like these that sip fuel http://www.harborfreight.com/2500-peak2200-running-watts-47-hp-125cc-portable-inverter-generator-61169.html?ccdenc=eyJjb2RlIjoiNzk4NTg1MjIiLCJza3UiOiI2MTE2OSIsImlzIjoiNDI5Ljk5IiwicHJvZHVjdF9p%0D%0AZCI6IjEwMTIwIn0%3D%0D%0A&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1516a&utm_source=1016&cid=mEmail_s1016_c1516a

the one you showed has two 5v DC USB outlets and one AC outlet.

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I believe you are trying to say it only has one AC outlet. Then get two of those, or spend twice as much for an extra small inverter generator like these that sip fuel http://www.harborfreight.com/2500-peak2200-running-watts-47-hp-125cc-portable-inverter-generator-61169.html?ccdenc=eyJjb2RlIjoiNzk4NTg1MjIiLCJza3UiOiI2MTE2OSIsImlzIjoiNDI5Ljk5IiwicHJvZHVjdF9p%0D%0AZCI6IjEwMTIwIn0%3D%0D%0A&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1516a&utm_source=1016&cid=mEmail_s1016_c1516a

the one you showed has two 5v DC USB outlets and one AC outlet.

 

Sorry got those mixed up. I couldn't be less of an expert at this kind of stuff, so thanks for the clarification.

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Why would you not just use your rigs house battery/ies? It's quite simple to wire in as many 12v outlets as you might need. 12v adapters for your laptops are also available fairly cheap.

 

If you're looking for something that can be recharged at a location other than your rig, what about just putting together your own? Whatever 12v battery of your choice, appropriate A/C charger and connected to 2 12v outlets would be the same difference. Fit neatly into some type of "project box" and it should do.

As RV pointed out, I didn't explain myself well, but I am essentially trying to find something that can charge our laptop devices (normal wall outlet) without having to crank on the generator. Of course we use our RV's wall outlets when we're plugged in at an RV campground.

 

I unfortunately wouldn't trust myself to wire anything electronically. The previous owner already did a pretty good job of setting the place up better than it originally was.

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We use a DC to DC converter to run our laptops and they charge at the same time. These power cords can be found in a number of locations online and in stores. Most laptops run at 19 volts and most of these power cords have adjustable voltage and a number of adapter plugs. Some need to be purchased for specific laptops. They plug into a standard cigarette light outlet. Chuck

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We use a DC to DC converter to run our laptops and they charge at the same time. These power cords can be found in a number of locations online and in stores. Most laptops run at 19 volts and most of these power cords have adjustable voltage and a number of adapter plugs. Some need to be purchased for specific laptops. They plug into a standard cigarette light outlet. Chuck

 

I worry about plugging into our cigarette lighter outlet because that uses the RV's main battery—and not the two deep cycle house batteries, correct? Or am I overreacting here?

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Hi YF,

No problem, but in asking you had me cornfused at first too. The drawback to what you showed in your link is that the charger would still need to be recharged. Let's go another way. Can I assume you are talking about charging out in the wilds or are you boondocking in cities with no hookups? How long are you going between being hooked up to electric? There are solar chargers that might work with those chargers you linked to. If you are trying to never pay for hookups then it might be time to consider if this rig is your keeper, and add a solar panel system on the roof. I'm not experienced with those but many do get by for months at a time with no electric hookups on public lands and other places. With a generator I would not worry about draining the house batteries if the generator has its own dedicated starter battery, which again I don't know. Just like Chuck said.

 

In other words since you have a generator, I'd just worry about charging your main batteries after they run out because they will do a lot more charging of laptops than the little one shot battery charger you linked to.

 

An alternative would be a smaller portable charger. This one is cheaper than your battery type and if you read the reviews they vary wildly. http://www.harborfreight.com/13-watt-briefcase-solar-charger-68750.html I got that suggestion from this article but had to search on each Item name: http://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/7-portable-solar-laptop-chargers-worth-considering.html

http://www.bing.com/search?q=solar+laptop+charger+power+kit&qs=AS&pq=solar+laptop+charger&sk=HS1AS1&sc=8-20&sp=3&cvid=66E7AE3ACCA54757A2005056D0EFDFF8&FORM=QBRE

There are lots of motorhome folks that will have better suggestions on solar for a motorhome, sorry I only used 5th wheel RVs and never had a generator as we fulltimed for 7 years using RV parks with hookups.

 

BTW, Loved your blog. When we started fulltiming in 1997 I was 45 and my wife was 43. And we only once ran into fulltimers close to our age twice in seven years. Most of our full time peers were 20 years our seniors. Now I am 64 in May, and I am in great shape for my age save some neck and lumbar issues I will have fixed with surgery hopefully soon. I can say in all honesty that I think you, like us, are making the right decision to fulltime while you're young enough to hike and dive and ski and run. Many RVrs are in better shape with no spinal issues, but at 45 they bothered me little. We could not have done 3/4ths of what we did do fulltiming today, as we were really into athletic pursuits. I'm amazed at the great shape some of the folks are that fulltime. But you will see what I mean as you go yourselves. I can full time again, just not do all I did then.

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Hi YF,

No problem, but in asking you had me cornfused at first too. The drawback to what you showed in your link is that the charger would still need to be recharged. Let's go another way. Can I assume you are talking about charging out in the wilds or are you boondocking in cities with no hookups? How long are you going between being hooked up to electric? There are solar chargers that might work with those chargers you linked to. If you are trying to never pay for hookups then it might be time to consider if this rig is your keeper, and add a solar panel system on the roof. I'm not experienced with those but many do get by for months at a time with no electric hookups on public lands and other places. With a generator I would not worry about draining the house batteries if the generator has its own dedicated starter battery, which again I don't know. Just like Chuck said.

 

In other words since you have a generator, I'd just worry about charging your main batteries after they run out because they will do a lot more charging of laptops than the little one shot battery charger you linked to.

 

An alternative would be a smaller portable charger. This one is cheaper than your battery type and if you read the reviews they vary wildly. http://www.harborfreight.com/13-watt-briefcase-solar-charger-68750.html I got that suggestion from this article but had to search on each Item name: http://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/7-portable-solar-laptop-chargers-worth-considering.html

http://www.bing.com/search?q=solar+laptop+charger+power+kit&qs=AS&pq=solar+laptop+charger&sk=HS1AS1&sc=8-20&sp=3&cvid=66E7AE3ACCA54757A2005056D0EFDFF8&FORM=QBRE

There are lots of motorhome folks that will have better suggestions on solar for a motorhome, sorry I only used 5th wheel RVs and never had a generator as we fulltimed for 7 years using RV parks with hookups.

 

BTW, Loved your blog. When we started fulltiming in 1997 I was 45 and my wife was 43. And we only once ran into fulltimers close to our age twice in seven years. Most of our full time peers were 20 years our seniors. Now I am 64 in May, and I am in great shape for my age save some neck and lumbar issues I will have fixed with surgery hopefully soon. I can say in all honesty that I think you, like us, are making the right decision to fulltime while you're young enough to hike and dive and ski and run. Many RVrs are in better shape with no spinal issues, but at 45 they bothered me little. We could not have done 3/4ths of what we did do fulltiming today, as we were really into athletic pursuits. I'm amazed at the great shape some of the folks are that fulltime. But you will see what I mean as you go yourselves. I can full time again, just not do all I did then.

 

We don't do much urban boondocking aside from casino stays, but those are fairly short-lived (two-three days tops). We are in Quartzsite right now attempting our first full week of boondocking, so we're hoping to work while otherwise living off the grid. We anticipate doing a lot more of these week- to two-week stays on BLM land, as long as we can rely less on our generator to power our laptops.

 

As for solar, we strongly considered (and even had money initially budgeted) to install solar panels, but ultimately our 22-year-old rig is just too old and beat up for that kind of investment. If we can make a go of this full-time RV living beyond the year or two we initially planned, we will upgrade RVs and splurge on a solar array that can accommodate our needs.

 

I have NEVER seen these portable solar laptop chargers/briefcases before... how cool! I will definitely research these further and see if they work for us. Thanks for introducing me to those products, very useful.

 

And finally, thanks so much for reading the blog. We're so fortunate the stars aligned like they did to allow us to take this journey. Not every non-retiree is as lucky, even if it's something they want to do. How cool you started at an early age (before it was cool), as there are increasingly more non-retirees taking the plunge. The opportunity to work remotely has simply changed everything. I expect those RVers in their 20s, 30s and 40s to grow exponentially in the next decade.

 

We haven't been on the road long (~6 weeks), but we've already lost weight, can hike farther and eat better (or at least less) than ever before. The healthy side benefits are already showing, so it's encouraging to hear those benefits only increase with time.

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Hey you guys will grow into it well! Our story is in our newsletters from the road in our website down below in my sig block. It is out of date but I still get a lot of comments from folks that found it on the web and found my warped sense of humor to their liking. I did the first research into Propane systems, rather than just argue on RV websites, with Ed Lee senior who then was nationally known for propane systems training and was lead engineer for Marshal Gas controls who made most of the regulators and fittings until the Chinese made products put them out of biz. My Propane articles are still current and you guys may find them helpful. There are lots of good websites in the sig blocks here. We have folks that are expert on data services for RVrs and the devices to do it, as well as electrical gurus and a lot of folks like me that just did all my own repairs and know a bit about all the systems, a lot about a few.

 

Caveat Emptor applies to those solar panels. Find each one on a website with reviews because some of them are junk AND overpriced. In your position at the Q you should be able to really get some hands on with folks that are not willing to expense a full solar system on their current, or any rig. Harbor freight has some panels and charge controllers that might make a good homemade fold out laptop kit for about what you were thinking about spending on two of the battery packs.

 

You should do well using your batteries and charging everything once a or however often your house batteries need to be charged when using them to charge/run your two laptops.

 

Safe travels Joe and/or Kimberly!

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I would reconsider your solar plans. If you are going to boondock much, and you don't want to run the genset, then you really have little option. When you install the panels, do so with the knowledge you will pull them off when getting rid of that rig. Not a big deal to do at all. I'd get some panels on there now, so you can really enjoy your boondocking experiences. Just my opinion based on lots of experience.

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Thanks for the feedback, Jack. We had the money set aside to do a small solar array in hopes of someday upgrading, but then we got hit with a $1K generator repair bill before our travels began. That pretty much sealed our fate for the immediate future until we can secure more stable income that exceeds our monthly budget (we're almost there). Once we get some money consistently coming in, we'll likely revisit some sort of solar option (perhaps even pop-up external panels) to make good on our power needs.

 

I realize we can simply move rooftop panels to a new RV, if and when we upgrade, but we also worry about putting holes on top of our 22-year-old RV, which has already had its roof patched by the previous owner. We'd hate to cause undue damage that would only further deplete the resale value.

 

I'm happy to be proven wrong on any of these points.

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I buy a 12-volt adapter for my computer. I have a jumper battery that I charge with a solar panel. It pretty much runs all my small stuff, except for charging the electric bicycles.

 

More info....here. These days it is difficult to find a jumper battery that takes a input from a solar panel, but I believe Sears still carries them. They are just a 12-volt input for charging....nobody knows that you can use a solar panel with them.

 

http://usbackroads.blogspot.com/2012/06/solar-or-generator-for-camping.html

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